Category Archives: Family

W^2 – measuring up

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, September 21, 2022

A couple of weeks ago, I was mowing our lawn on a Wednesday evening after school, when I looked up to discover this young boy and his mom investigating the handprints in our sidewalk. His mother was patient as the young boy placed his hands in each of the handprints and repeated the process.

a young man investigates the handprints in our sidewalk, When, IL, Wednesday, September 7, 2022 6:18 PM

The first was the handprint made by our daughter who was four almost five years old and the other, our son who was eight years old at the time. Beneath each handprint, my wife had scratched their initials and the date. The year was 2007.

Our kids are grown. Our son is married, our daughter in college, and one day this young boy will be making his way after leaving his mark somewhere along the way.

We all leave a mark, sometimes it’s visible and sometimes it’s not. It’s in the things we do, the way we made people feel, thew tings we say and write, and the contribution we made along the way.

Today is going to be an amazing day. I know it and I can feel it, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, leaving my mark.

How has your Wednesday been?

twenty-one years later

Twenty-one years ago, this morning, I was welcoming my seventh graders into my geography classroom. It was early in the year in the year, and we were building routines and learning. I was learning their names and faces and the lesson for the day was the water cycle.

The water cycle courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

I don’t remember the first two classes, but I do remember when a counselor came into the classroom towards the end of the second class, about 9:20 AM or so. She waited until the class ended, the third period class had entered, and settled and until after the bell had rung and then she made the announcement that earlier in the morning America had been attacked. Her message was scripted and every classroom in our school go the same message at the same time.

I don’t remember the exact text of the message, but I can close my eyes and go back to room B111 on September 11, 2001 and picture the layout of the room on that morning.

On nine-eleven two thousand one, I was 39 and my students were 12.

This past spring, I began volunteering regularly at Loaves and Fishes on Thursday after school. I had been volunteering on Saturdays since early 2020, but I decided to add a new day. Soon, I had been asked to be the lead volunteer for my part of the operation on Thursday afternoon. Loaves and Fishes is a wonderful place, and I am thankful to be part of an organization that helps people in need, especially when the cost of groceries and gasoline have increased significantly. I have also discovered a community of people who care about others, and I have met several parents of former students who volunteer for the organization. It’s a small world.

It was the last day of school and summer had begun when I walked into the market at Loaves and Fishes for my Thursday afternoon shift.

I saw Michelle and we greeted each other, and she shared a story with me. It went something like this:

Michelle – you teach at Scullen, right?
Me – yes, I do.
Michelle – Do remember Judy? She was the nurse.
Me – Yes, I remember Judy and I remember having her son Joey in class. It’s been a log time.
Michelle – I was at a going away party last weekend for Judy. She’s retired and moving to Wisconsin, and I mentioned I had me you at Loaves and Fishes. She remembered you and we were talking, and Allison overheard us and joined our conversation, do remember her?
Me – yes, I do. I do remember that name – it was our first year at the school and we were all new.
Michelle – well, she remembers you.
Me – WOW. Really? I remember her, too. I hadn’t thought about that name since she was in my class. That’s a long time ago.
Michelle – yes, it was and she does. She told the two of us that every year on 9/11, she remembers being in your class and being scared and that you were calm and reassured her and the class that everything would be okay.
Me – WOW (and at this point I am beginning to tear up)
Michelle – Ally’s married and has two kids and lives in the area.
Me – We all grow up, thank you for telling me this.

That’s how I remember our conversation and it’s stuck with me since.

This summer I started my baseball trip in New York City. The first game was Sunday at Yankee Stadium and after the game I drove to Washington, D. C. for another game. I returned Tuesday for third game and the possibility of visiting the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Unfortunately, the museum was closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the time I was in New York City. But I figured I could at least visit the Memorial before I left for my Philadelphia and game four.

Tuesday night I set alarm for early Wednesday morning, before sunrise. My plan was to walk to the memorial which was less than a mile away from my hotel. It was early morning twilight, and I was surrounded by tall buildings blocking much of the light. New York City was beginning to waken, even though I suspect the city never sleeps, it’s always moving. Cars, buses, and trucks were beginning start the day and few people were walking with me. Some going to work and other heading home.

I passed a church that was refuge on 9/11 and the days after as people sought comfort. Continue reading twenty-one years later

three words for the first week of school

What a great week! I am back to school for a twenty-fourth year of teaching. It was a great week for so many reasons, but I am going to share three BIG IDEAS – eight, hike, and inspirational. It was so good I think I am going to go back on Monday for another week.

the early morning air from my summer office

A few weeks ago, I read a blog post by Beth at I Didn’t Have My Glasses On. Her post was a clip of an article about a decree by the president of Turkmenistan concerning the cycle of life. According to the decree, life comes in cycles of 12 years and the cycles are:

  • Childhood (birth – 13 years)
  • Adolescence (13-25 years)
  • Youth (25 to 37 years)
  • Maturity (37 to 49 years)
  • Prophesy (49 to 61 years)
  • inspirational (61 to 73 years)
  • Wisdom (73 to 85 years)
  • Old Age (85 to 97 years)

I find myself on the cusp prophecy and inspirational. However, when I look in the mirror, I can see all of the cycles, but I can identify with childhood and adolescence. I believe my kiddos see me where I am on the cusp of being prophetic and inspirational. For the next ten months that is where I will spend most of my weekdays working with kids teaching and learning, but mostly learning, bouncing between cycles.

It was a great week for so many reasons, but I am going to share three BIG IDEAS – eight, hike, and inspirational. Continue reading three words for the first week of school

The Lion Sleeps Tonight – part 2

Yesterday was my twenty-fourth first day of school, well, not completely. I was with teachers and administrators for meetings and new school year information, but kids will arrive Thursday. I am excited and I am sure the kids are, too..

I have one more day of meeting and a FULL day to work in my classroom and prepare for Thursday’s real first day of school with kids.

After school, I asked a colleague to film the solution to the riddle I posed in last week’s Tuesday’s Tune – The Lion Sleeps Tonight.

In the jungle, the mighty jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
In the jungle the quiet jungle
The lion sleeps tonight

Before the solution reveal, let’s review the rules.

  1. The raft needs at least one animal to paddle it across the river, and it can hold at most two animals.
  2. If the lions EVER outnumber the wildebeest on either side of the river (including the animals on the boat if it is on that side), the lions will eat the wildebeest.
  3. The animals cannot just swim across – there are crocodiles in the river, there are no tricks, the animals must use the raft as described in rule #1.

Did you give it a try?

If so, how long did you persist in the challenge?

And now the solution…… Continue reading The Lion Sleeps Tonight – part 2

greetings from our garden

I love our garden and our backyard. I enjoy sitting at the patio table outside and working. We’ve lived in our home almost 31 years and it has evolved and grown.

The backyard is peaceful and calming unless a lawn crew next door or across the street. But lawn crews are here briefly, except for Saturday morning, but I am usually out of the house volunteering at the food pantry. The birds nor the flowers seem to mind.

hydrangeas on the south side of the house

This morning Fern and I woke before six and we spent our morning routine outside on the deck. The birds chirped, mostly house sparrows and cardinals, but I have seen American robins, black capped chickadees, house finches, and an occasional American goldfinch at the feeders. And the hummingbirds, occasionally I’ll hear a buzz to my left and look up to watch a hummingbird move in for a drink. Continue reading greetings from our garden

summer learning

The sound of rain woke me this morning at 5:35 AM and the thought I’d forgotten to roll up my windows got me out of bed. Any other summer morning, I might have gotten up, gone to the bathroom, and crawled back beneath the covers, but not this morning. I pulled on a pair of shorts, grabbed my car keys, and walked out to my car to confirm that I had forgotten to roll up my windows.

me and the bridge, right out of the car

I not sure the term ‘roll up the windows’ applies any longer. The last car I had that had manual windows was the 1971 VW Beetle or it could have been the 1985 Jetta, but it has been a long time since I have rolled up the window with a hand crank. I did remember to bring the key and I had to start the car before I could get the windows closed. I am glad I woke when I did, it continues to gently rain as I begin to write a couple of hours later.

Maybe next time, I’ll remember to close my windows or at least check them, when I know rain is in the forecast. After all, last night we covered the boats, closed the shack door, and put away summer things in anticipation of the rain this morning. It is something we learned under grandpa years ago. It’s summer learning, but it could be said that ‘some’re learning’ which is how ‘some are learning’ sounds if you aren’t listening to the context.

School restarts for me, a week from tomorrow. I am excited to get back to school and try somethings I learned this summer and continue to practice what I’ve learned about teaching kids in the past twenty-three years. The first three days of school are filled with meetings, time to plan, and time to get the room ready for the kids who join us on Thursday, August 18.

A couple of friends joined us this past Wednesday and as always, we enjoyed their visit. They are the same couple who we vacationed with this past spring in the Keys. They are also the same couple we drove home with after BOTH of our flights home were cancelled on Saturday, April 2. All four of us sharing driving time through Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and southeastern Indiana where their son was able to meet them and take them to their home in southwestern Ohio.

Thursday morning, we decided on a visit to Mackinac. It’s pronounced – mack-in-naw and it is Ojibwa word for ‘turtle’ and refers to the island which dominates the strait between the upper and lower peninsula.

the mighty Mack

We could not have chosen a better day for our trip; clear blue skies with puffy clouds drifting across the horizon and comfortable temperatures.

We arrived at Colonial Michilimackinac Historic State Park and it was good to stretch our legs even after the short drive of 85 miles; nothing like our journey in April when we stopped only to switch drivers, refuel, and….. Continue reading summer learning

the race

It’s race weekend in the town near the lake where we spend much of our summer. Actually, as I am about to press, PUBLISH, the race is complete. If you watch the video, winners are the third canoe to pass and while the canoe in the lead finishes in second place. It’s a long race.

The race creates excitement for Grayling. And for us, too.

Yesterday was busy. Our kids, led by W, decided they were going to scuba dive in the lake. Both are scuba certified but that didn’t make my wife, or I feel any better about diving in the lake off the pontoon boat. But they did and they had a wonderful time.

Afterwards, they spent time on the lake, and we gathered at the table for dinner – ribs, beans, and salads (not pictured, but delicious).

Then it was off to watch the start of the race, the AuSable River Canoe Marathon. Town is only minutes from the lake and the river source is in the highlands north of the lake. Two other rivers have their sources in the highlands around us and all three are known for their trout fishing and canoeing. Continue reading the race

at rest, in peace

I began writing this post two weeks ago in Cincinnati, Ohio and didn’t finish in the time I had. I started writing after the Reds game Friday night and worked on polishing it in the coffee shop Saturday morning. But I couldn’t quite find the right words or flow. It was the last full day of my epic baseball trip and I wanted to make it on time to Cleveland, so I stopped and crafted a different post.

Of all the cities and stadiums, I visited on my trip, Pittsburgh was my favorite. I felt connected from the moment I arrived, I felt welcome, I felt home.

PNC Park and the Pittsburgh Skyline, the yellow bridge is the Roberto Clemente Bridge dedicated after his death in 1973.

Before I left Pittsburgh, I visited my paternal grandparents. They are buried in a beautiful cemetery to the south of the city center. I had intended to visit them before the game, but I was late leaving Philadelphia. The cemetery where they lay at rest, in eternal peace, was in the general direction I was traveling. So, it was a win-win. I could visit them and get closer to Friday’s destination, Cincinnati.

my grandfather with me on the left and my Warren on the right. 1964, Bay City, Texas

My grandfather died in 1971 at the age of fifty-two. I was nine years old and remember the summer evening we learned of his death. He died peacefully on July 17, 1971.

It’s funny the things you remember from your childhood and growing up. Continue reading at rest, in peace

learning

Yesterday, I went for a hike at my favorite hiking spot, Herrick Lake Forest Preserve. It’s a short drive from house and it makes a huge difference in my hike compared to my neighborhood. I’ve posted photos from previous hikes at the forest preserve. The preserve has woods, a prairie, and a marsh and the main crushed limestone hiking trail winds through it all.

the access road I take to get to the trail

It was a beautiful day and I had initially planned to hike first in the morning, but I decided to hike later in the day. I knew it would be relaxing and restorative.

When I had arrived home from the lake Monday afternoon, I discovered a house with no internet. I tried to resolve the issue, but a solution was beyond my capabilities. I called for support and learned the earliest a service technician appointment was available, was Thursday morning with an 8-12 service window.

The main reason I had come home from the lake was that I had enrolled in a graduate level class to learn more about assessing students in my science classes. Assessment or grades have been a HOT TOPIC in public education over the past couple of years and I wanted to learn more. The class was virtual with two internet ZOOM meetings.

I could use my phone as an internet hot spot, but the prospect of ZOOMING using my phone concerned so I decided to use the local public library for my heavy internet usage. It worked out well and I was patient and waited for the service tech to arrive Thursday morning.

When the tech arrived, I was outside working at my ‘summer office’ on the deck using my phone as my internet connection. I invited him, but he told me he wanted to start outside the house where the line enters the house. That’s where he found the problem, somewhere down the line there was a broken connection. A couple of years ago we had an outage and it caused by mice chewing on the wires in the junction box in the backyard. We talked about it, and he told me that it was a common problem and he laughed saying animals gave him job security.

He told me that he couldn’t make the repair, but another service tech was needed to find the break and make the repair. He told me I didn’t need to be home for the repair, so I used the opportunity to take off and hike. Continue reading learning

Tipping point

It is Sunday morning and my last day at the lake for this trip. I’ll be heading home tomorrow morning to focus on my summer to dos. I enjoy my time by the lake, and it serves its purpose: I am rested, relaxed, and getting closer to the restoration that I need after a year of teaching.

I was up well before the rest of the house. It was a beautiful Michigan July summer morning; temperatures in the upper 40s, fog hanging close to the still mirror-like lake, and clear blue skies. The past few days began the same with highs in the low 80s. It promises to be a beautiful day.

Friday afternoon on the lake under the sun

Today is also Day 38 of summer break with thirty-six days remaining. I keep track of the days only to remind myself that summer is finite. Yesterday was the tipping point of summer. It was the point at which the first part moves into the second part or the first half changes to the second half. Summer is an arc, either way it means that I am on the downward side of the arc. Continue reading Tipping point